Column #450 Cara has her eye on you!
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Cara has her eye on you!
Today’s “column” isn’t about darts. Its about a dog named Cara whose life began in Romania just like one of my dogs, Romy. In 2010, I adopted Romy from one of my clients’ sanctuaries in Galati. At the time she was just a three pound puppy. Today, she is a fifty pound monster.
Yesterday afternoon she tripped my wife. Last night she barked for hours at an unseen invader. Possibly it was a deer. Maybe it was a raccoon or rabbit. Probably it was just the wind. Romy’s instincts are those of a street dog. That’s her lineage. She was dumped in a snow bank during a blizzard.
I was in Romania on business. Fundraising consulting for animal protection non-profits is what I do when I’m not tossing darts at the triple twenty and hitting the triple one. While in Bucharest I took time to take in the darts scene and share my experience. The story is here: Bucharest, Romania.
For foreign visitors, Romania is a shock. The hidden beauty of medieval cities, unique architecture, the Balkan environment, and the traditions and various traveling possibilities contrast with most of the people’s poverty. Homeless animals roam everywhere. Many drivers see no point in breaking for a dog or cat. Strays are often purged by killing squads.
Things were not very good in the past either, because Romania (even if now part of the European Union) is still struggling to recover from more than sixty years of fascist and communist rule. Though the communists (Nicolae Ceaușescu) were thrown out more than twenty years ago and many of the animal control agencies that used to support themselves by selling dog and cat skins were shut down, Romania’s public institutions are still very corrupt and most people are not educated about the need to help support animal shelters with donations, supplies, volunteer help and adoptions.
This morning I was reminded of all of this. I had to craft and edit a direct mail fundraising appeal for one of my clients, the Romanian League in Defense of Animals (ROLDA). It’s about a dog named Cara whose start in life was similar to my rescue dog – but whose future is hopeful because of the lifesaving efforts of my client.
Often I receive e-mails and read Facebook posts from darts friends who have a special place in their hearts for animals in need. To those of you and perhaps others – you know who you are – I share the following. If you are able to help please take a moment to go here (Romanian League in Defense of Animals) and send a few bucks via PayPal. A dollar goes a LONG way in Romania. For no more than what you might pay for a few beers and a Luck of the Draw entry fee you could give an innocent dog just like Romy or Cara a second chance at life.
From the Field,
Cara always turns a little to the left to look into your eyes.
Looking straight into your eyes is her way of sizing you up, evaluating you, just in case, until she figures out if you are a good person or not. The old saying “keep an eye on you” describes the reality of Cara’s case…
She has only one eye.
Cara probably learned what it means to be a mom the moment she felt her babies inside her belly. Possibly it was a little later when she was searching and searching for a safe hiding place to give birth, away from people and other dogs’ possible attacks. Certainly she felt what it means to be a mom when she sniffed and kissed her two babies for the first time and experienced the joy of seeing them happy and relaxed, sleeping under her protective body. No doubt she felt the mixed feelings of pride, happiness and worry when they started to walk and move away from her, every day a bit more, exploring.
But before long Cara suffered two of the most painful moments of her life.
She had gone out to scavenge garbage or hunt rats very early that morning, to be back “home” in time before the puppies whimpered to be fed.
Street dogs in Romania must forage along the roadsides and in garbage heaps to make a living. Their food may be the remains of road kill or leftovers found in plastic lunch bags, whatever rodents they can catch, or even the leather sides of discarded shoes.
Cara had hidden her puppies among the bushes near the railway spur that connects the main Galati train station with the steel plant station. Returning to the spot on this morning, she felt increasing worry which turned into panic when she couldn’t smell, feel, or see her babies anywhere. She sniffed the spot where she left her babies sleeping peacefully. Then she began running in circles, larger each time, until..
She found her babies suffocated in a plastic bag.
Probably they tried to escape from the bag until the last moment. But they were too young and too small to succeed. Cara felt the pain that every mother would feel, mixing emptiness, sadness and rage against the killer.
Cara started back toward her hidden spot. Then she realized there was no reason to go there. She looked at her puppies one more time and with their smell still fresh in the nose, she started to search for the human who killed them.
She did not realize their remains had been left as bait for her.
She sniffed the ground, climbed and ran across the junk-strewn field, cutting her paws on sharp metal. She ran toward the exterminator with a rifle who was trying to sight in on her to shoot her, but she saw only her innocent dead babies.
Hearing a whizzing, she turned quickly, surprised. Immediately she felt something like sand in her right eye. Then something on her cheek. She tried to keep running and only then found that she could not see straight. Everything happened in a few seconds. When she stopped, the pain in her right eye increased. Soon, it became excruciating, but it was different kind of pain from the pain she felt at finding her puppies dead.
The man who killed the puppies and shot Cara apparently thought he had killed her, too.
But Cara survived to cry in her own language and, more loudly, from her wounded heart. This is how our rescue team found Cara a few days later. Workers from a nearby industrial site called us about a dog who cried day and night.
Wounded strays usually hide, to protect themselves from being exposed to further injury, but Cara seemed to no longer care if she lived or died.
Cara will never have puppies again. Thanks to our compassionate supporters, we were able to sterilized her. This cost about $26. Vaccinating her cost another $5. It may not seem like much (particularly when you compare it to the cost to spay, neuter or vaccinate a dog or cat at your veterinarian’s office) but for a small organization like ROLDA, which helps countless dogs like Cara, the expenses add up. This is why your support is so important.
The scar where Cara lost her eye heals more every day. Her injury will always be visible. Still, she can handle herself perfectly. She is a good candidate for adoption by someone who does not insist on having a perfect-looking dog. She is sensible and grateful, and in a way, she does look perfect, with a beauty that is in how you look at her.
Cara’s emotional scars have been by far the most difficult to treat, to anticipate and to handle, day after day.
There are days in Cara’s life when she is not happy and smiling, even if she is now away from dangers, treated with respect and gentleness, and maybe, thanks to you, going to a caring home. There will be moments when she will hear or smell other dogs’ puppies and her remaining eye will cry her heart’s sadness.
Cara cannot speak to tell to everyone her story, but at ROLDA we are strong enough to listen to stories like hers, day after day. And thanks to your support we are able to respond.
I was nervous when Cara met a stranger at the shelter for the first time…
But Cara proved she is just like any dog, with a big heart and a will to live. It’s just that she turns a little to the left to “keep an eye on you.” This is how she can judge best if you are a good person.
Cara turns to see your good side. At ROLDA she sees it every day.
Please continue to show your good side to homeless dogs in need. Be as generous as you can today so we can continue to help more dogs like Cara find the care, love and forever homes all dogs deserve.
Founder, Romanian League in Defense of Animals
P.S. Cara’s story is all too true. The tragedy is that it is also all too common. At ROLDA we encounter similar situations every day and, thanks to you, we are able to step in and give homeless street dogs the second chance at life they deserve. You can save a life in just seconds via PayPal. It’s just a quick click away: Romanian League in Defense of Animals.
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